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Most people can’t remember events from the first few years of their lives – a phenomenon researchers have dubbed infantile amnesia. But why can’t we remember the things that happened to us when we were infants? Does memory start to work only at a certain age?
Here’s what researchers know about babies and memory.
Infants may be able to form:
Semantic memories: memories of facts like the names of different varieties of apples or the capital of your home state.
Procedural memories: how to perform an action.
Infants cannot form autobiographical memories, remembering events with them being the main character of their consciousness.
You can get infants to remember events for longer by training them for longer periods of time and by giving them reminders.
It still isn’t clear whether people experience infantile amnesia because we can’t form autobiographical memories, or whether we just have no way to retrieve them. No one knows for sure what’s going on, but scientists have a few guesses.
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